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Wakizashi Assessment/Opinions requested


Kaiser21
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I’m posting this wakizashi for a friend who isn’t comfortable posting pictures on forums.

It was brought back to the U.S. shortly after the end of the war by a then Major in the American occupation force.  He knows very little about it and is hoping to get a translation of the signature and an approximate time period of production.

He’s had the sword for many years as he acquired it directly from the Major who was an acquaintance and just wants to know more about it.

The knife is apparently not original to the sword.

These are the only pictures I have. I’m told the blade is 22 inches from tip of kissaki to the tsuba.

I’m hoping I can help him out here by asking the experts on this forum.

 

 

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Dear Steve.

 

The sword seems to be signed, "Izumo Daijo Fujiwara Yoshitake".  You will find plenty of papered reference examples on the net.  A straight on photograph of the nakago would help, the angled shot makes life a little difficult.

Is the tsuba signed?

 

All the best.

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Hi Steve, 

 

The signature on the sword reads Izumi Daijo Fujiwara Yoshitake. He worked in the province of Yamashiro between 1673 and 1681.

 

There is the chance that the signature is a forgery, as it tended to happen often with Japanese swords but it’s a genuine Japanese blade and a nice set of fittings. 
 

Geraint will have beaten me to it. :)

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Geraint:

 

Thanks for this. 

 

This may be the best picture of the nakago we can get.  If it makes the difference between an educated guess and a definite identification I'll ask for a straight on shot.

 

I'm pretty new to the Nihonto area myself. I'm thinking based on your comment that "Izumo Daijo Fujiwara Yoshitake" is a well known smith?

Good of you to take the time to respond.

 

Steve

 

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John;

 

That is great news!  This is exactly what my friend was hoping for!

 

The name of the smith and the period when the sword was made. 

 

I have to think that if there is the possibility that the signature was forged (in some instances, not necessarily in this instance) then his work must have been considered desirable?

 

Thanks gentlemen for your prompt responses.  My friend will be thrilled to know this.

 

Steve

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2 minutes ago, Shugyosha said:

Steve,

Do a search on Aoi's museum. There are other examples there.

 

https://www.aoijapan.net/wakizashi-izumi-daijyo-fujiwara-yoshitake-first-generation-2/

 

John:

 

Many thanks for providing this link.  I had a quick look.

 

This is beyond what we were hoping for!

 

Steve

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Dear Steve.

 

There were at least two generations, some sources suggest three, signing this way and working into the 1700s.  The 'handwriting' of the signature is quite distinctive hence my request for that full  on shot of the nakago.  The tsuba looks like it might be  a Soten

school work and the saya looks to have been good.

 

If you have a look here, http://www.sho-shin.com/kyoto-horikawa-den.html  scroll down to the last two blades, you will notice that the very first kanji is quite distinctive and from what we can see slightly different to yours.  Here's hoping that a better shot might resolve any doubts.

 

All the best.

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Apologies Steve, I’ve stuffed up there. There’s a typo in Markus Sesko’s Compenendium that uses the kanji for Izumi instead of Izumo under the entry for the Daijo. 
 

Also, in the Compendium the title for first generation is Daijo but the second “no Kami”. So a right mucking fuddle. Apologies again. 

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Also, gimei (false signature) is far more common than you think! Even low-grade smiths had their signatures forged. There's not necessarily any rhyme or reason to it.

However, sounds like the gentlemen here think you've got a good one, so congrats!

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Thanks very much for your input. I realise that these comments require an investment of time on your part. 

 

No need for apologies at all.  I have an appreciation of the complexities involved here.

 

I will ask for a better shot of the nakago.

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21 hours ago, Shugyosha said:

Apologies Steve, I’ve stuffed up there. There’s a typo in Markus Sesko’s Compenendium that uses the kanji for Izumi instead of Izumo under the entry for the Daijo. 
 

Also, in the Compendium the title for first generation is Daijo but the second “no Kami”. So a right mucking fuddle. Apologies again. 

 John:

No need to apologise. 

 

I'm afraid you'll have to indulge me here as I have zero experience in sword smith signatures.

 

In your view what does the signature say?

 

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The TSUKA ITO (handle wrapping cord) is probably made by an amateur and not done correctly. As the sword looks generally quite nice, this should be restored one day to make for a good 'ensemble'.
The TSUBA is probably made in the O-SOTEN style, which is quite desirable and if genuine, not cheap.  

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3 minutes ago, ROKUJURO said:

The TSUKA ITO (handle wrapping cord) is probably made by an amateur and not done correctly. As the sword looks generally quite nice, this should be restored one day to make for a good 'ensemble'..  

 

I seem to recall that my friend told me that the wrapping chord came undone at some point and some helpful soul attempted to make it right.

 

Thanks for your input.

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We may also note that the uragawara (strip across the bottom of the 'little knife' pocket) is en suite with the koiguchi (band around mouth of scabbard).  The uragawara is usually plain, black horn so it is a nice touch.  The kashira appears to be horn and is not an unusual feature.

 

BaZZa.

Edited by Bazza
corrections
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14 hours ago, Kaiser21 said:

 John:

No need to apologise. 

 

I'm afraid you'll have to indulge me here as I have zero experience in sword smith signatures.

 

In your view what does the signature say?

 

 

What Geraint said.

 

I normally refer to Markus Sesko's compendium when looking up smiths' titles, I was struggling with identifying the "yoshi" character on your blade and it often provides a short-cut where the other pieces of the jigsaw are in place. I simply read down the list until I matched the kanji for the province which was under the title "Izumi Daijo" but, unfortunately, a smith signing Yoshitake was Izumi Daijo as well as your one who was "Izumo daijo" and I mistakenly thought that I had your man. I should have realised the discrepancy from Geraint's post.

 

Consequently, the link that I copied across from Aoi Art isn't your guy, sorry.

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Dear John.

 

Unlike some smith names there are very few Yoshitake to deal with, some sources claim two generations, some three.  As far as my research goes none of them was ever Izumi Daijo so I fear we might have unearthed a slip of the keyboard in Marcus' excellent work. (And also Tsuruta san's.) The sword you linked to is an Izumo Daijo Yoshitake so no worries on that score.  

 

The other differences in titles is to do with the smiths changing their honorific during their careers, I have a second generation blade with the Izumo Daijo title.  Having done some digging into that one made reading the mei much easier of course.

 

 There is a good write up here, https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/tokubetsu-hozon-nbthk-jo-saku-nihonto-1867295911  ( I am sorry to have to use this link but I can't find the original from Nihontocraft).  The example that Steve has is quite close to the mei on this one.

 

 

All the best.

 

 

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I've not been able to find an example of a signature attributed to the first generation. He gets a more than respectable 70 points in Hawleys so it would be worth trying to tie it down for the owner - maybe shinsa in the USA if there's one soon. The only second generation signature I could find in my sources was in Fujishiro and it looks different to this one - similar to the one on Shoshin.

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I agree that shinsa would be ideal.  The one I linked from Nihontocraft is as close to the one that Steve has posted as I can get and it states the date as 1624 which is comfortably shodai.  Most of the mei I have seen are cut with a rather thin chisel and have the characteristic 'broken back' to the first kanji.  Steve's sword does not have these features but it seems closer to the Nihontocraft example.

 

Would love this to be just such a result.

 

All the best.

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Thank you for those Matt, they illustrate the shape of the first kanji and the slightly thin chisel strokes very well. 

 

I don't have the book 'Japanese Swords in American Collections' by Dan Massey an entry in it suggests that there are two signing styles for the shodai and that might account for the differences Inoted and give us some hope for the posted example.   The sword referred to in the book is possibly the sword I linked to above.

 

As regards the titles of the generations, in various places both are listed as having held both titles at different times.  Nihonto 1, a magazine published by the Token Society of Great Britain, illustrates a papered katana with the Izumo Daijo mei of the nidai, the Wazamono listing has both, each having the Izumo Daijo title, and so on.  I think we have to assume that the Toko Taikan is not totally inclusive in this instance.

 

All the best.

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You gentlemen have been very tolerant so far, so please indulge me with another question regarding the naming conventions.

 

I'm inferring that Izumo Daijo is an honorific of some sort and the smith was known as Fujiwara Yoshitake is that correct?

 

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Sorry Steve.

 

Yes, Izumo Daijo is an honorific, as is no Kami, Daijo ranking a little lower than no Kami.  Izumo refers to the province which does not mean that the smith actually worked there.   Fujiwara is an old family or clan name and Yoshitake is the smith's name.  The practice pretty much starts at the turn of the Shinto period, 1600 and is more a matter of keeping the right people sweet than earning a ranking because of the quality of your work. 

 

All the best.

 

 

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Geraint:

 

OK. Interesting. 

 

Many thanks for taking the time to educate me on this topic.   I've learned a lot as a result of this post.

 

Cheers.

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